A 4-8 season by the Bobcats didn't help. Neither did the fact that he was a snubbed during the Combine selection process.
So Ohio University safety Michael Mitchell knew that he had to make a
statement at his Pro Day back on March 12.
"I had decided I was going to leave no doubt that I'm going to be one of the biggest, fastest safeties on the market," the 6-foot-1, 220-pound defensive back told Scout.com. "I looked at the day as, 'finally here's my chance.' I just wanted to get in a room with guys like William Moore, Mike Hamlin and Louis Delmas and compete with those guys. But since I didn't get to do that, my Pro Day was my chance to show that I could."
Mitchell put forth a compelling case to the NFL scouts and coaches who gathered to watch the school's top athletes. He reportedly ran a 4.43-second 40-time on his first attempt and followed that up with a 4.49-second time—even though he pulled up a bit at the 35-yard mark due to tweaking his hamstring.
Now remember, that's a sub-4.5 time in the 40-yard dash run by an athlete who weighs in at 220-pounds.
Photo: Scott Gardner
As a result of that speed, Michael Mitchell doesn't just tackle opponents, he clobbers them. Watch his highlight reels and you'll see that players' legs fly out when this guy puts a hit on them. He made 62 tackles during his senior year, forced a pair of fumbles and picked-off three passes.
"It's so weird that I've been flying under the radar, and at times it's been frustrating," he said. "I've been playing well, I've never been in trouble, I truly believe I'm a good person with a good heart.
"If you ask people about Mike Mitchell, they'll tell you he's a hard worker and a great leader. He's a guy who's going to give 110 percent every time he steps on the field whether it be a workout or anything regarding football, he's always putting his best foot forward. And I'm definitely proud of that."
Mitchell told Scout.com that the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Detroit Lions all spent some time talking with him at his Pro Day. He's also worked out for the Chicago Bears and the Cincinnati Bengals. And he's had official visits with the Colts, Browns, the Oakland Raiders and the Green Bay Packers.As he's made the rounds with NFL teams, he's finally hearing that coaches and scouts have noticed that he's worthy of getting his shot at playing in the NFL.
"I keep hearing that they really like my size and my athletic ability," Mitchell said. "I think the thing that shocked a lot of people is my footwork. But I played corner all my life, and then when I got to college my coaches saw my potential to play safety, so he moved me to free safety. But as you watch film, you can tell I kind of like to hit people a little bit, so he moved me to strong safety."
Team officials also seem to be attracted to some of Mitchell's intangibles as they've learned more about him.
"They've told me that they really like the leadership and emotion I bring to the game," he said. "I hope this doesn't come off the wrong way, but I truly believe there isn't another player that brings it like I bring it, every play, every practice, every game."
Michael Mitchell is ready for the NFL. And one thing's for sure—he's no longer flying under the radar.
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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Or contact him by email through this link.